Fairbanks Ruby Port

Fairbanks Ruby Port
Origin: California
Alcohol: 18%

Sometimes you have to take one for the team and drink something that's borderline nasty and strictly bottom-shelf booze (ie. Olde English), if for no reason other than curiosity and for shits and giggles.  

This time, it's Fairbanks Ruby Port, port of course being a wine fortified to bring the alcohol up a notch.  This stuff is a lofty 18% alcohol.  Which doesn't sound all that impressive, but that's around 30% stronger than typical wine, which adds up after a couple drinks.  Trust me.  You'll be dancing on the table in no time.  

Now I've had some good port, but this isn't one of them.
I almost feel compelled to write about a real-life time I was drinking that involved elves, a Santa costume, and a donkey... but I don't know if this hooch deserves such funny stories.  So instead, we'll get right into the review:  Fairbanks Ruby Port pours a translucent, bright ruby red.  So far so good.  It has aromas of, I kid you not, fresh cherries and Swedish Fish.  You know, those artificially-flavored chewy, little, red candy fish?  Yeah, this stuff smells a lot like those disgusting things.  That's bad enough, but still not the worst part.  You take a sip and get straight-up cherry cough syrup. You read right, CHERRY COUGH SYRUP.  What the Hell?! !! $^$@!!  It tastes of fake, medicinal cherry and harsh alcohol.  It's only marginally better than drinking real cough syrup, except it won't help your cough.  The first glass is gross, but oddly enough if you can stomach it, the second glass doesn't seem all that bad. 

The guy at the liquor store recommended this saying, "Lots of people sure buy the Fairbanks port."  And yeah, those lots of people are probably homeless.  Maybe he was just playing a joke on me.  That bastard.  I kid you not, this stuff only costs $3 for a 750mL bottle.  That's certainly a pretty good cost-to-alcohol ratio.  I can't decide if it's better than MD 20/20 and Boone's Farm, but it certainly fits into the same category of gross, boozy sweetness.  At least this stuff is made from real wine.

Drink This: if you like nasty, fake cherry flavor and want to get your drink on... but only have $3.
Don't Drink This: if you have more than $3 to spend on booze.         


  1. Quite funny. I came here searching for information on the process involved in making Fairbanks port. Apparently it is a dark secret; that or it really is made by a process similar to real port-making.

    If not for the alcohol content, I imagine it would be popular amongst children, or perhaps British children with arthritis.

    You see, I very much like port and seek to drink it on a budget. However, judging by your review and my own personal experience, this is an unreasonable ambition. And a pity it is!

    Since there is no actual information available on this query of mine, I shall conjecture below with how I presume it is made (Fairbanks).

    I figure they must start by sending the homeless en masse into discount food stores to purchase the cheapest grapejuice available. When prices are up, applejuice is used for sweetness, and cherry-koolaid for coloring.

    While it is unlikely that isopropyl alcohol is used, I suspect the fortification process is achieved through the use of bottom-shelf grain alcohol, though this is nothing I am confident of. It may be Brazilian ethanol.

    I am not sure if I've put this in proper chronological order, but at some point in time the liquid is thrown into large vats made of cement. There, it remains until Fairbanks feels like bottling it.

    But of course all the above could be avoided by simply pouring Mad Dog 20/20 into different bottles.

  2. Port Authority,

    You may have stumbled upon their dark, dark secret method!

    I like how you think...

  3. We made the mistake of purchasing this. Their sherry (in my opinion) was not bad. Generally, in the past, we've gotten Taylor port (which is acceptable, but not great). However...my husband tasted a half-glass of this stuff and proceeded to go back out to get a bottle of Sandeman's. SO MUCH BETTER!! (He also made homeless /cough syrup / Thunderbird allusions.....)

    1. I'll have to track down a bottle of their sherry! Not that it's very hard to taste better than this stuff, but hey, I'm down to try anything. Glad to see your husband has good taste.

      Thanks for the comment!

  4. I love Port. I'll drink a bottle a day at times; but I don't collect the paycheck to easily justify it. I'd always drank Taylor Fladgate Fine Tawny, which is about eleven dollars a bottle if I buy four at a time. Frankly, it's a very good port for the frequent drinker; but I'd hoped to cut down my expense and took a chance on Fairbanks. I ought have known better; I'd done the same thing with Sheffield Sherry. The fact is, one CANNOT buy a decent fortified-wine for under ten dollars. There's no way around it. I found Fairbanks Port to taste like cheap balsamic vinegar. But I simply had to try it before I could reject it, and what the hell, went for the magnum-size (if price wasn't an indication of low-quality--that ought have been). It's gradually disappearing by the same method I got rid of my cheap, California Sherry: Orange juice and soda. It's drinkable that way, and I could probably cook with it, too. Anyway, unless you're looking for a cheap mixer, stay away from the stuff, and stick to Taylor's.

  5. This was funny! I grew up seeing this as a baking wine. if you want to put some in a cake or something it adds a good flavor. We normally put it in the cake then soak the cake in it after baking. Once again great taste. Never thought to just drink the thing.

    1. Yah know, after reading these reviews I knew something was wrong. I think I'll upgrade. Does anyone have a good suggestion?

  6. And now its 9.99 for a bottle & seems to me the same thing. But I tasted raspberries not cherries

  7. I like max it up with Robatussin DM cherry cough elixer for a party punch...(^_^)...It is awesome!

  8. For the price- it's a great port. I have a feeling, that some reviews are written by competitors. Speaking of "dark secret" of the Brazilian ethanol- I don't think it's going to fly with whistle blowers laws in this country. Also, being an expert of Russian ports in my student youth, I perfectly know a taste of grain ethanol in port. Also, in Russia in 70's was a brand knowingly adding grain ethanol in to the cheap fruit wine and i caused a several deaths, so it's production was stopped. I don't believe any American producer would want to save couple pennies by adding grain alcohol. Also, there is a certain technology in port preparation. You guys should educate Your self before posting senseless accusations.


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